By Andrew Ramirez
My apartment is overrun with centipedes and silverfish and the kitchen sink, at any given moment, is stacked with more dirty dishes than clean ones. A few weeks ago, a roommate of mine tried to overdose on fish oil extract. After slapping him awake, he looked me in the eye and said: You’d consider me a good friend, right? The chain guard on my door has been kicked off the frame. And locked or not, the knob, if you twist it far enough, will always open.
I recently stepped through my roommate’s ceiling while trying to hang an American flag from the rafters.
The rear passenger window of that same roommate’s GMC Envoy was smashed in five days ago. The radio and a case of Vitamin Water were stolen. Two weeks ago I stepped out of my apartment with a Red Ryder BB gun and DPS put me in handcuffs. They put my roommates in handcuffs too, inspected the entire apartment for additional weapons, and after uncuffing all four of us, explained to my roommates: We could have shot your roommate in the face. And then to me: Mr. Ramirez? How do you think that would’ve felt?
I woke up this Sunday headache-free but both metaphorically and literally empty in the gut: I didn’t go to any new bars this weekend. I was thinking, So what the hell am I supposed to blog about?
A centipede crawled from one crack to another in the brick wall by my desk. I thought: I could blog about that. It’d be one of those anecdotal blogs, an analogy, a metaphor for, for, for….
But truth be told, funds are low right now and I’m trying to limit spending. It starts with cutting whiskey and beer. Of course any sensible person would say, Young man that’s great news. Now get your life together! But it’s harder to write something the way you want to, all thoughtful but dirty too–messy but good like hair that hasn’t been washed in six days–when you’ve got too clear a head to do it. Vice versa, how are you supposed to write something clear and sensible when your head’s a beer-soaked mess and your hair’s all sticking up in the back? Dear student, please tell me, despite your bloodshot eyes, what the visual nuances of Hitchcock’s Rebecca are anyway.
That’s why I recently dropped out of English honors. I couldn’t write thesis-driven arguments. I went to my prof’s office hours to see what I was doing wrong. We ended up chatting about Top Gun. Come class time, she’d give me back my paper with a big PLEASE REWRITE on it. When I went back to office hours, we’d talk more about how Tom Cruise was gay for Val Kilmer. We went back and for like that for three weeks.
“Andrew, it’s not that it’s bad. It just doesn’t really make sense. The analysis you made about the….” and on and on in red marker. After the second rewrite, too much work was piling up and I had to get out of there. I was creative enough, but lacked balance. I was good at individual sentences but bad at entire papers. I was English Honor Society but not Honors English. What I’m saying is: None of it makes sense. This professor and I were forced to academically part ways via email. She responded: Enjoy the rest of your semester. With a hint of disdain: Good luck with your creative writing. Unsaid: Let’s see where that gets you motherfucker.
I was telling my friend about this–she graduated last year with an English degree–and with a waver of longing in her voice (oh pretty darling academia come back to me) she said: Writing my senior thesis was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
“Well I quit the honors program,” I told her.
“Lazy,” she said. “Pure laziness.”
“I think it’ll be nice to graduate with one less rope around my neck.”
“It’s not a rope. It’s a cord.”
“I can’t write a thesis-driven argument anyway. I won’t write what I wouldn’t want to read.”
“You and I are fundamentally different.”
“That’s true. You live at home, I don’t.”
“I hate you.”
“Yeah, ha-ha and eat shit.”
She hung up the phone. Hey what’s new? Lately, it’s like all these phones have been hanging up on me. And the thing is–despite one real loud hang up–all that matters are the ears still pressed up against that receiver, listening. It’s nice not knowing an official ear-count, too. A writer can go for days so long as he keeps telling himself there are many, or at least a few.
Next week: See you at the bar.